The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping claimants into employment - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Penny Meade


The following account is my experience of an Atos Work Capability Assessment and how it was totally unfit for purpose.

My Condition

1.  I have progressive disease that affects my skin and my joints (Palmoplantar pustulosis, pustular psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis).

2.  I worked until 2009 when it became impossible to continue and on the advice of GP and two consultants I stopped working and made a claim for ESA.

3.  The first I knew of an Atos medical was when I got a letter through demanding I attend for one. The place they wanted me to go was an hour away by car and as I have mobility problems and I arranged for my husband to take me.

4.  I got a phone call two hours before my appointment time on the day to inform me they were over booked so would have to cancel my appointment, I explained that I had made special arrangements to attend but was told "sorry but that's the way it is". I got really stressed and upset and my husband phoned them in disgust and he was told to bring me up and they would "fit me in".

Centres are inaccessible

5.  There was no parking near the building but I can't walk so we parked illegally.

6.  The actual assessment went quite well, I saw a GP who seemed aware of my condition although she still managed to get a couple of points wrong ie she wrote I could put my own shoes on and off even though it was summer and I had slip on sandals on and explained that I couldn't bend to fasten shoes.

7.  She didn't do the WCA as she felt there was no point, she wrote on my assessment "this condition will continue to deteriorate and this woman will NOT be able to return to work at ANY time in the future".


8.  So imagine my surprise when I received my notification that I had been placed in the Work Related Activity Group and expected to attend the job centre for six interviews!

9.  As it stated not to recall me for two years and no one mentioned the appeal process as a possibility I accepted it.

10.  I made it to two interviews at the jobcentre, as the meds I was on caused me to get infections the girl at the jobcentre didn't insist on me attending the other four. She said it was ludicrous as she couldn't possibly do anything with me, she only had three options to offer me:

—  1.  a year's subscription to the gym (I am disabled with mobility issues);

—  2.  a college course in basic skills ie reading and writing (I am a doctor of Psychology!); and

—  3.  jobcentre workshop on CV writing etc (no use to me at all).

Her opinion

11.  Many of the people she was seeing should not be in this category but she knew the only way to get in the Support Group was if you had less than six months to live.


12.  My overall impression of ESA—hugely stressful, unnecessary, demeaning, inhumane, waste of time and money.

April 2011

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Prepared 26 July 2011